|By pinoyfarmer | March 17, 2010|
LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – After enduring a huge production slump last year, the country’s mango industry is expected to bounce back this year because of the lingering dry spell caused by the El Niño phenomenon, says Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap.
In a prepared speech at the opening of the 12th National Mango Congress here on Wednesday, Yap says the weather anomaly is good for the flowering of mango trees.
“Last year, the national mango harvest in the country reached 771,200 metric tons, which is lower by 13 percent compared to what we produced in 2008,” he says in a speech read by Rene Rafael Espino, national coordinator of the Department of Agriculture’ s high value commercial crops program.
Despite this, he says, the mango industry still managed to contribute some P18.1 billion to the country’s total agricultural value.
“Of this volume, some 30,200 tons of fresh, processed and dried mangoes worth $34.6 million were exported to about 50 countries worldwide from January to October [last year],” Yap says.
The sudden decline in mango production was attributed to the successive strong typhoons and incessant rains in 2008 and 2009 that hit mango-producing provinces, such as Pangasinan, the country’s top mango producer. Pangasinan contributes almost 40 percent of the national mango production.
But Yap warns that while the weather was good for mango growing, usual problems, such as high production costs, high post-harvest losses and prevalence of pests and diseases should be expected.
“During these trying times, we must learn how to optimize our productivity and capitalize and build our distinct and comparative advantage in the mango export market,” he says.
Domestic and foreign demand for mango has been steadily growing, “driven by higher incomes, growing preference for healthier foodstuff.”
Governor Amado Espino Jr. says that although the country ranks sixth among top mango producers in the world, it could only export six percent of its total mango production.
“And 90 percent of that very limited market share goes out as fresh mangoes,” Espino says.
“In other words, with only six percent of our total mango production being exported, we still have a big potential to export more fresh mangoes, and even greater potential to export more mangoes in processed form,” he says.
Espino says that for them to become competitive, the people in the mango industry must attain improved production efficiency “through the principle of economies of scale.”
“Right now, in the absence of large-scale mango plantations, the only way for us to reach optimum supply levels for mango processing is to engage in greater inter-provincial cooperation, ” he says.
Espino says Pangasinan should have its own mango processing capability.
“We must also promote the use of organic farming as an indispensable means to upgrade the quality of our mangoes to eventually satisfy, if not surpass, the very rigid standards of foreign market,” he says.
Virginia de la Fuente, president of the Philippine Mango Industry Foundation Inc., says Pangasinan mango growers had been losing almost P20 million a month in the last five years due to poor handling and harvesting practices.
De la Fuente, who presented an overview of the country’s mango industry at congress, says the foundation wanted to help Pangasinan cut its losses.
“Our goal for Pangasinan, therefore, is for its mango growers and producers to save its annual losses,” De la Fuente says.
This may be achieved, she says, by establishing village-type processing centers.
Only the Pangasinan Tropical Fruits Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Manaoag town has mango processing facilities in the province.
By Gabriel Cardinoza of Inquirer Northern Luzon
through Rarefruit Society of the Philippines (RFSP)